European Satellite Dodges SpaceX Satellite In Risky Attempt To Avoid Collision
By Yimin Huang, 03 Sep 2019
In order to prevent a satellite from colliding with a massive constellation, the European Space Agency (ESA) has had to make a “collision avoidance maneuver”, the first of its kind according to CNET.
ESA’s satellite was close to colliding with a SpaceX Starlink satellite. As Elon Musk’s team did not move their satellite, ESA had to fire the Aeolus satellite’s thrusters to bring the satellite to a greater height.
According to ESA Operations, the agency’s official Twitter account, the maneuver “took place about ½ an orbit before potential collision,” showing just how risky the entire situation was. Fortunately, the maneuver was successful, and Aeolus managed to “send back its science data.”
ESA also reveals that while it has performed a total of 28 collision avoidance maneuvers last year, “it is very rare to perform collision avoidance maneuvers with active satellites.” The usual obstacles are “dead satellites” or “fragments from previous collisions.”
ESA has also warned that dodging collisions would be virtually impossible when satellite constellations continue to grow. Meanwhile, it is working on using artificial intelligence to perform maneuvers in the future.
The manoeuvre took place about 1/2 an orbit before the potential collision. Not long after the collision was expected, #Aeolus called home as usual to send back its science data – proving the manoeuvre was successful and a collision was indeed avoided pic.twitter.com/flYGDwFQ57— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) September 2, 2019
It is very rare to perform collision avoidance manoeuvres with active satellites. The vast majority of ESA avoidance manoeuvres are the result of dead satellites or fragments from previous collisions#SpaceDebris pic.twitter.com/mjbdoFfCPa— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) September 2, 2019
[via CNET, cover image via Shutterstock]
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